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MAJOR DUNDEE

Director: SAM PECKINPAH

U.S.A. • 1965 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 35MM • 136 MIN


‘Moby-Dick on horseback’ was Peckinpah’s first impression on reading the script for Major Dundee. Today the film looks even more resonant: the tale of a hastily conceived mission of high moral righteousness (a cavalry unit sets out to hunt down a group of marauding Apaches responsible for a recent massacre) that loses sight of its goal, strays illegally into foreign territory, and leaves the unit without a coherent exit strategy.
There’s none of John Ford’s romanticism here: Dundee’s men are a fractious group comprising Rebel prisoners, ex-slaves and criminals. Dundee himself is a deeply flawed individual, about as tactically astute as General Custer, whose mission will turn into a dark night of the soul. Wonderfully shot and finely acted by Charlton Heston, Richard Harris and James Coburn, this restored version still bears traces of the battle scars between the director and his producer Jerry Bresler, who was expecting a conventional Cowboys-and-Indians saga, but this is still major Peckinpah, and a crucial landmark on the way to the groundbreaking Wild Bunch.

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